We expect a lot from students here at Eagle Rock School, and we make no bones about ensuring these expectations are understood and accepted. In fact, we even call them the “5 Expectations” so that every student leaves here as a productive, engaged citizen, ready and willing to make a difference in the world.
Among these five expectations are:
- Learning to communicate effectively
- Expanding one’s knowledge base
- Become an engaged citizen
- Acquiring leadership skills in order to achieve justice
- Creating healthy life choices
Today we’re going to focus on No. 2 of these expectations: Expanding Knowledge Base.
One of our expectations for all Eagle Rock students is that they will acquire the skills necessary to become independent learners and problem solvers. Traditional math and English courses often fall within this expectation.
In our math classes, this expectation is usually tied to a specific content area such as algebra, geometry, probability, statistics or calculus. Within these areas, many math courses at Eagle Rock revolve around specific real-world situations. For example, exploring gambling games and how probability factors into that casino floor equation. Others include how to research and interpret (data analysis), how to predict outcomes (statistics), and how to hide things (cryptography).
Within many of Becky Poore’s math classes, final projects are assigned for the purpose of assessing what’s been learned and offering students the opportunity to demonstrate and showcase the skills they’ve acquired. For the gambling example above, from a math class on probability, students are expected to expand their knowledge base by creating their own game of chance.
In other math classes, students are tasked with making their own budget, researching and analyzing data on a topic, or using statistics to predict an outcome. The idea is to show mastery of a skill that we believe they have learned, by applying it to a realistic real-world situation.
Even beyond learning a new skill, we also strive to support students to become independent learners. We put the emphasis on learning how to learn rather than learning specific content. This can be seen in how our classes are structured, with high amounts of independent work time surrounded by structures that support students in their own explorations.
Same concept holds true for students taking our research classes. Dan Hoffman, our literacy and literature instructional specialist, believes such courses should focus on teaching students to learn the skills necessary to write a research paper.
For this, students learn library research skills and how to evaluate sources for quality and truth. They learn a variety of reading approaches that enable them to build background knowledge in their chosen field of study. Then students are challenged to improve their writing, construct unique arguments to support their papers, and then share their research with experts in their field of study.
Research is considered one of the most traditionally rigorous courses at Eagle Rock and is designed to help students develop writing and research skills for college, and also to expand one’s knowledge base.
We hope you can begin to see how the curriculum here at Eagle Rock School encourages student ownership of learning and demands documented mastery of specific competencies. Those competencies are rooted in the values of our school (see: 8 + 5 = 10), and specifically within the 5 expectations.
Check back soon for another blog post about our 5 Expectations. In fact, if there’s a specific expectation you’d like us to write about next, please use the Comment section below to indicate which Expectation that is.